Durban - Two businessmen are embroiled in a bitter dispute over a R2.5 million Ferrari California, with one accusing the other of theft and the other insisting he bought the car.
uMhlanga businessman, Thoshan Panday, wants the red convertible back from his former business partner, Vinesh Sukhari.
But Sukhari, who has business interests in the logistics and petroleum sectors in Bedfordview in Johannesburg, insists there was a verbal sale agreement and said he would be opening a defamation case against Panday for claims of theft made in the media.
Panday denied there had been such an agreement, and said the car was borrowed for Sukhari to attend a function more than a year ago.
Sukhari’s attorney, Peter Ramano, said he was preparing a high court defamation claim for up to R10 million.
Ramano said Panday’s claims that his client had stolen the vehicle did not make sense, especially as they had shown the police evidence that money had been paid to Panday and that Sukhari had continued to pay the R43 000 monthly instalments.
Sukhari detailed in an affidavit a total of R644 000 he said had been paid directly to Panday for the vehicle.
Sukhari told the Daily News he had been harassed by a group of policemen who accompanied Panday to his home in July and tried to seize the car.
He said the officers – alleged to be from the SAPS Crime Intelligence Unit and Ekurhuleni Metro Police – had banged on his gates, demanding he return the car.
“He came to my house with 10 policemen… they had no warrant, nothing, but they came in my house and accused me of stealing a car in front of my family,” Sukhari said.
However, he did not open a police case over this incident.
Panday said the men who accompanied him were “protectors”, not policemen, and he had told Sukhari he would be coming to his house.
“When Vinesh (Sukhari) is arrested, I will deal with all the facts in a court of law,” he said.
Panday’s attorney, Trushanta Somaru, said there was “definitely no sale of the vehicle”, adding that the Ferrari had been “loaned” to Sukhari. However, she could not specify the period or the payment arrangements.
Somaru said her client had been involved in a business venture with Sukhari, and a business loan of R2m had been made to Sukhari. The pair were involved in buying diesel from Sasol for resale.
According to an acknowledgement of debt signed by Sukhari and shown to the Daily News by Panday, a payment of R1m had been made to Sukhari.
But Sukhari said on Monday: “They are accusing me of stealing a car, a Ferrari. If I stole that car it would have been reported stolen and I would have been arrested by now. This is becoming a joke…”
Sukhari denied receiving the money – although he does not deny signing the acknowledgement of debt.
“I signed the document without receiving the money, it was never transferred to me,” he said. “If he (Panday) claims he gave me the money, he must give the proof… I have proof of the EFT transfer for the payments I have made to him for the car and for the instalments.”
According to Sukhari, the agreed purchase price for the Ferrari was R1.95m.
He said the matter was being investigated by the Hawks, adding that he was last contacted by an official last Thursday.
The Hawks did not respond to calls and SMSes seeking comment on Monday.
Sukhari said: “This (dispute) has a negative effect on me and my reputation. I have been a reputable businessman for many years, and I have never had anyone accuse me of such behaviour.
“I have no reason to drive a stolen Ferrari, I have plenty luxury cars,” he said, adding these included a Porsche, two Mercedes-Benzes, a BMW X5 and a Maserati.
“He (Panday) had financial constraints and wanted to sell. He’s dishonest and he’s lying about our relationship, about the car and business deal,” he said.
In response, Panday asked why Sukhari had not bought the car from a dealership if he could have afforded to.
“My people are working hard to get me my car back.”